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Public Benefits: What should I know about the Pandemic Electronic Benefit Transfer (P-EBT) program?



I’ve heard that families with children who qualify for free or reduced priced meals at school may receive food assistance benefits.  Is this correct?

Yes. The Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) program gives families extra money for food if their child(ren) would normally get free or reduced-price meals at school. This program started during the 2019-2020 school year and is continuing through the 2020-2021 school year as well as summer 2021. Learn more here.

How will P-EBT work during summer 2021? 

All school-age children who are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch will continue to receive P-EBT benefits during summer 2021. The amount is $375 per child, split over two payments in June and July. Also, all children under 6 whose households already receive SNAP will get P-EBT benefits, even if they are not yet in school.

My child never received free or reduced priced meals.  Will we still receive the new P-EBT benefits?

Maybe.  Nearly 1,000 schools in Ohio are considered "community eligibility" schools where all children have access to free school meals.  This includes many metropolitan school districts, including Akron, Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati public schools. EVERY child in the school district is eligible for P-EBT, even if your family’s income would be too high if applying for SNAP or reduced meals directly.

Do I need to apply for P-EBT and how do I receive it?

You do not need to apply if your child’s school is a “community eligibility” school OR if your child gets free or reduced-price meals under the National Schoool Lunch Program. If your child’s school participates in the National School Lunch Program but you have not applied for free or reduced price meals for your child, you can apply with the school. If you are not sure if your school participates, you can check this database.

If your family already gets SNAP, the benefit will probably be added to your Ohio Direction (EBT) Card.

How much will I receive?

For the 2020-2021 school year, the benefit is $6.82 per child for each day the child does not receive a free or reduced-price meal at school because they are attending online or only part of the day. That means if your child is going to school in-person and eats their meal at the school, they will not receive a benefit for that day. Grab-and-go meals do not count as eating a meal at the school, so you should use both grab-and-go meals and P-EBT to meet your family’s needs.

How can I use these benefits?

These benefits can be used to buy grocery items (not including prepared hot meals, restaurant food, pet food, or non-food supplies) at grocery stores and retailers that accept the Ohio Direction Card (also referred to as an EBT card).   Unused benefits will rollover month-to-month and must be used within 365 days.

I am not eligible to receive SNAP usually because of my income or immigration status.  Will I still receive P-EBT benefits?

Yes.  If your child normally receives free and reduced meals at school, you will still receive P-EBT. Receiving P-EBT has no effect on immigration status and is not considered in a public charge determination.Note that all families with children attending the Cleveland Metropolitan School District will receive this benefit.

For more information about P-EBT, visit ohiopebt.org. If you have questions or concerns, please call the Ohio Department of Job and Family Services P-EBT hotline at 866-244-0071 or email Family_Assistance_Inquiries@jfs.ohio.gov.

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